Cutting the California Conservation Corps: Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish
From last night’s fire far across the canyon
The dry conditions this year finally broke late last night but the rain we’re getting barely dampens the ground. Last year’s drought looks likely to continue into this year. The terrible fires of last summer could be even worse this summer as the economic policy of our governor includes closing down the California Conservation Corps. This would be a tragedy as the Corps is known for its work in many areas including fire suppression.
Cristina Bauss‘ excellent article in Tuesday’s Independent (unfortunately, not online so I can’t link to it!) points out that the Corps performed 622,000 hours of fire response work last year alone. The cost to tax payers for the program is a measly 17 million per year. The fire suppression efforts provided by the CCC last year would have cost the tax payers another 20 million if they were performed by a private entity.
Fire suppression is not the only area the Corps helps save money. Estimates from CALTRANS say thatusing the CCC saves 2.6 million in maintainance costs last year. Our local Corps also works with the Matole Restoration Council, the Eureka Zoo and the State park system as well as other agencies and private parties.
I care not just as a tax payer though. I care as a mom. As I said on another local blog,
I’ve been watching this story with a knot in my stomach.
The Corps provides a structured setting for kids who for various reasons aren’t quite ready to survive on their own.
The labor they provide to the area (recently they spent several days at the Eureka Zoo) is the least of what they offer. The Corps helps kids get an education (several attend CR and others are finishing high school diplomas) and learn work skills that make them better employees in the private sector later.
They also have a military style boot camp atmosphere that helps boost physical fitness. One boy is there to get in shape for the army.
My son is currently at the Fortuna office. He is working as a cook and just got his first paycheck for about $900. The rest went for room and board. I love to hear the pride in his voice as he discovers what he is capable of.
He’s found a place to experience espirt de corp–helping both himself and society. Killing one more option designed to help young people become productive members of society is short sighted and we will all be the poorer should it be dissolved.
For more information on how you can help stop Governor Schwarzenegger’s attempt to end this excellent program go to www.save-the ccc.org.